PHILIPPINE AIRLINES President and Chief Operating Officer Capt. Stanley K. Ng. said the company’s first quarter results were “very encouraging” and “better than expected.” — REUTERS

FLAG CARRIER Philippine Airlines (PAL) said on Tuesday that it saw “very encouraging” results in the first quarter as travel demand began to recover amid relaxed restrictions.

“It’s very encouraging, the results of the first quarter, which we will release soon. It was better than expected. We actually beat our budget,” PAL President and Chief Operating Officer Capt. Stanley K. Ng told reporters during a briefing.

“For domestic travel, we’re already at more than 80% of our pre-pandemic level, while for international, we’re around at 60% of our pre-pandemic level. So the results are really encouraging,” he added.

The airline anticipates returning to pre-pandemic levels of domestic flight capacity this year.

PARTNERSHIP WITH SINGAPOREAt the same time, PAL and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) announced a partnership on Tuesday to entice more Filipinos to visit Singapore, which officially opened its borders on March 4.

“With this partnership, we are really looking forward that this route can recover soon. We’re looking at adding a third; and by the fourth quarter, we’re looking at going back to the pre-pandemic level of our flights,” Mr. Ng said.

STB Chief Executive Keith Tan said Singapore considers the Philippines as an “important tourism market.”

“Strong flight connectivity between our countries is really important for us, both for tourists and business travelers,” he added.

Under the partnership, “passengers of PAL will… be entitled to exclusive boarding pass privileges that provide special deals and promotions across a wide range of tourism establishments in Singapore, including Museum of Ice Cream, Mandai Wildlife Reserve, establishments on Sentosa, and more,” STB said in a statement.

It noted that since April 1, vaccinated ​travelers to Singapore have been enjoying “a streamlined travel process, requiring only proof of vaccination, a pre-departure coronavirus test, and a simple SG arrival card.”

PAL Holdings, Inc., the listed operator of PAL, saw its net income improve to P60.6 billion last year from a loss of P73.1 billion in 2020, primarily due to an increase in “other income” attributable to gain from debt settlement and condonation.

Its revenues for 2021 reached P58.7 billion, 6.2% higher than the P55.3 billion in 2020. — Arjay L. Balinbin